Nearly 25 years after his ill-fated live-action film, it looks like Mario will be returning for a new Super Mario Bros. film. Mario needs no introduction, of course, being Nintendo’s iconic mascot and the star of any number of classic video games. 1993's Super Mario Bros. also had the dubious honor of being the first live-action film based on a video game, and it’s fair to say it didn’t go down so well.
The production was a total mess, resulting in four different directors working on it and costly production overruns. It also made the baffling choice to set the story in a dark, Blade Runner-style city and ignore the game’s colorful roots and characters. The resulting film received scathing reviews and made less than half its budget back, and star Bob Hoskins dubbed it the worst film he’d ever made. Having been thoroughly burned by the experience, Nintendo has avoided filmmaking ever since.
That appears to have changed, as TWSJ claims Nintendo is nearing a deal to develop an animated Super Mario Bros. movie. Nintendo has apparently been in close talks with Universal Studios subsidiary Illumination Entertainment, who are also responsible for Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life Of Pets. The report also states Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto could serve as producer, and Nintendo will have a hands-on role creatively.
Neither Universal or Nintendo have confirmed these reports yet, but it's potentially very exciting if true. The ultra colorful, cartoonish world of Super Mario feels much better suited to animation than live action anyway, and given Illumination’s track record the property would be in very safe hands. If the movie is a success it would surely open the door for other Nintendo properties to be adapted too, such as The Legend Of Zelda and/or Metroid.
That said, if the Super Mario Bros. animated movie goes ahead, it’ll still have to deal with the video game movie "curse." While there have been plenty of hit movies based on video games – just look at the Milla Jovovich Resident Evil films – they almost always suffer from bad reviews and mixed fan response. Even recent attempts to make quality adaptations like Duncan Jones’ Warcraft and Justin Kurzel's Assassin’s Creed failed to impress audiences and failed to launch movie franchises.
Still, Mario remains a beloved character - as proven by the recent success of the new Super Mario Odyssey game - and if Nintendo gives it their full support, a new movie could redeem the franchise on the big screen.
We’ll keep you updated about the potential Super Mario Bros. animated movie as more information arrives.